E.F. Schumacher is often quoted with his one liner, "Man is small, and, therefore, small is beautiful." We enter this world so tiny and grow so fast within nine months it is rather remarkable.
Schumacher's economics dealt mainly with human scale thoughts. If an idea is good for the human person, then it should be sought after. If the proposed idea hurts the person, then it should be abandoned.
This Englishman is no small cookie in the economic thought world. Here is his bio. You can still watch many of his talks on YouTube.
He also had some interesting thoughts on politics. I think he has made a common sense statement when he is quoted "It is when we come to politics that we can no longer postpone or avoid the question regarding man's ultimate aim and purpose. If one believes in God one will pursue politics mindful of the eternal destiny of man and of the truths of the Gospel. However, if one believes that there are no higher obligations, it becomes impossible to resist the appeal of Machiavellianism -- politics as the art of gaining and maintaining power so that you and your friends can order the world as they like it. Once one accepted that man was created by God with a designated purpose; politics, economics and the art had value only for the end of helping man reach a higher plane of existence, which should be his goal." I think he makes an important distinction that is often missed. He seems to support the idea that man cannot compartmentalize his ideas, beliefs, and actions. His actions will flow from his ideas which are shaped by his beliefs; in the case of Schumacher, the person's belief of the finality of man will determine how a person will interact in the political realm.
This relates to business as well. As I am finding in the Small Giants, these companies have something about that tends to separate them from other companies. Whether it be "enlightened hospitality," community involvement, or treatment of employees, these companies come to the table with an idea of how a business is supposed to interact with the culture around them and this shapes how the company is run. By choosing smalldom, these businesses are able to accomplish their mission. It sounds like these companies have had the opportunity to go public, expand into other markets, or sell to a larger corporation but have chosen to remain small so as to keep the culture that they had been building.
What is the culture like at some of these companies? One company offers to donate 2 to 1 when any employee donates to a charity, another company peers through the lens of Ann Arbor, MI and if opening a new business doesn't seem to be Ann Arborish it will move to other plan. Most of the companies are very involved locally. What I am finding are great examples of subsidiarity and solidarity with these companies. These are two great principles and finding companies that operate with these in mind, whether intentionally or not, is a treat.
What are some of the things your company or employer offers that shows it is human scale? How involved in the local community is the company? An interesting discussion is whether or not a public corporation should be involved in social responsibilty, what do you think of this? Many people have problems with governmental welfare, what about corporate welfare? Should a corporation, whose owners are the stockholders and according to contemporary economic and business practices the executives have the responsibility to them and their investment, be involved in corporate welfare?
Have a wonderful week!
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